With a background that includes a stint with the Count Basie Orchestra (directed by Frank Foster) and as a sideman with Clark Terry, Dave Glasser continues a tradition of Bebop saxophone in similar vein to that of Frank Morgan, Phil Woods and others who have carried the torch since the heyday of Charlie Parker. Glasser’s newest release Begin Again
is a veritable clinic in Bebop saxophone that features tunes from the jazz standards repertoire and four originals penned by Glasser and pianist Tardo Hammer.
Glasser’s saxophone technique certainly exemplifies his familiarity with great players who have preceded and influenced him. He weaves fast and intricate lines in his improvisations that are truly inventive musical ideas and not merely a "running of the changes." The recording opens with an up version of the Cole Porter classic "In the Still of the Night." Throughout, the rhythm section keeps a swinging steady beat that helps Glasser’s alto float buoyantly above the group. Also, pianist Hammer has a light and deft touch that compliments Glasser’s fleet approach. On the Charlie Parker tune "Steeplechase," Glasser enters with a multiphonic interjection (that will reprise from time to time in his solo) before playing the hip and angular head to Bird’s composition. Glasser then demonstrates his sensitive side on the beautiful Gigi Gryce ballad "Reminiscing." After another Gryce composition, a medium swinger entitled "Social Call," the quartet delves into the searing Dizzy Gillespie/Kenny Clarke Bebop classic "Salt Peanuts." Glasser and his sidemen more than do justice to pyrotechniques of the Bebop classic as they raise the temperature with some very fine soloing and a driving rhythm section.
In a contrast of tempo to "Salt Peanuts," is an original ballad "Begin Again." This title cut to the CD reflects Glasser’s compositional inventiveness with a relatively simple melodic idea that unfolds into a beautiful musical statement. Another Glasser original "Team Time" is an up tempo burner that is in the best of the Bebop tradition. "Bossa For Brigitte," a collaboration between Glasser and Bayer is, a nice and breezy Bossa Nova that contrasts well with the torrid tempos of Bebop. Pianist Tardo Hammer contributes a Thelonious Monk influenced original "Conviction." Perhaps for the sake of comparison, Glasser and sidemen follow with two Monk originals "Reflections," and "Epistrophy." The CD concludes with a straightforward rendition of "When You Wish Upon A Star." Glasser’s lighter alto sound could not help but bring to mind Frank Morgan’s recording of the same piece that opened his 1991 Antilles release A Lovesome Thing
For students of modern jazz saxophone Begin Again
by Dave Glasser is a certain "must have." His sound, technical approach, melodic inventiveness, and relentless swinging provide a superlative model of how to play modern straight-ahead jazz. The work of Glasser’s quartet provides excellent listening enjoyment, and for any jazz aficionado the CD is certainly a highly recommended addition to one’s listening collection.